Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes.

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden.

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances.

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.

La Traviata, ENO

English National Opera’s revival of Peter Konwitschny’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata had many elements in common with the production’s original outing in 2013 (The production was a co-production with Opera Graz, where it had debuted in 2011).

Idomeneo in Lyon

You might believe you could go to an opera and take in what you see at face value. But if you did that just now in Lyon you would have had no idea what was going on.

Der fliegende Holländer, Royal Opera

I wonder whether we need a new way of thinking — and talking — about operatic ‘revivals’. Perhaps the term is more meaningful when it comes to works that have been dead and buried for years, before being rediscovered by subsequent generations.

Iphigénie en Tauride in Geneva

Hopefully this brilliant new production of Iphigénie en Tauride from the Grand Théâtre de Genève will find its way to the new world now that Gluck’s masterpiece has been introduced to American audiences.

Tristan et Isolde in Toulouse

Tristan first appeared on the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole in 1928, sung in French, the same language that served its 1942 production even with Wehrmacht tanks parked in front of the opera house.

Arizona Opera presents Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

Arizona Opera presented Eugene Onegin during and 1999-2000 season and again on February 1 of this year as part of the 2014-2015 season. In this country Onegin is not a crowd pleaser like La Bohème or Carmen, but its story is believable and its music melodic and memorable. Just hum the beginning of the “Polonaise” and your friends will know the music, if not where it comes from.

Ernst Krenek: Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen, Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Florian Boesch and Roger Vignoles at the Wigmore Hall in Ernst Krenek’s Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen. Matthias Goerne has called Hanns Eisler’s Hollywooder Liederbuch the Winterreise of the 20th century. Boesch and Vignoles showed how Krenek’s Reisebuch is a journey of discovery into identity at an era of extreme social change. It is a parable, indeed, of modern times.

Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new Anna Bolena, a production shared with Minnesota Opera, features a distinguished cast including several notable premieres.

San Diego Celebrates 50th Year with La Bohème

On Tuesday January 27, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. It is the opera with which the company opened in 1965 and a work that the company has faithfully performed every five years since then.

English Pocket Opera Company: Verdi’s Macbeth

Last year we tracked Orfeo on his desperate search for his lost Euridice, through the labyrinths and studio spaces of Central St Martin’s; this year we were plunged into Macbeth’s tragic pursuit of power in the bare blackness of the CSM’s Platform Theatre.

Béla Bartók: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

Béla Bartók’s only opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, composed in 1911 and based upon a libretto by the Hungarian writer Béla Balázs, was not initially a success.

Katia Kabanova in Toulon

Káťa Kabanová is, they say, Janáček's first mature opera — it comes a mere 20 years after his masterpiece, Jenůfa.

Peter Grimes in Nice

Nice’s golden winter light is not that of England’s North Sea coast. Nonetheless the Opéra de Nice’s new production of Peter Grimes did much to take us there.

Guillaume Tell in Monaco

Peasants revolt in a sea of Maserati and Ferrari’s.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Umberto Giordano: Marcella
11 Oct 2009

Giordano: Marcella

Although this DVD comes on the Naxos label, an earlier CD version of the same performance went under the Dynamic label, specialists in rare repertory.

Umberto Giordano: Marcella

Marcella: Serena Daolio; Giorgio: Danilo Formaggia; Drasco: Pierluigi Dilengite; Clara: Natalizia Carone; Raimonda: Angelica Girardi; Eliana: Mara D'Antini; Lea: Maria Rosa Rondinelli; Vernier: Marcello Rosiello; Barthélemy: Giovanni Coletta; Flament: Graziano De Pace. Slovak Chamber Choir. Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia. Manlio Benzi, conductor. Alessio Pizzech, stage director. Filmed at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, on 4-6 August 2007 as part of the 33rd Festival of the Valle d'Itria, Italy.

Naxos 2.110263 [DVD]

$9.99  Click to buy

Umberto Giordano’s Marcella certainly qualifies as rare - a one-act opera in three episodes, under 70 minutes in length. This mid-career work came after Giordano’s early successes (notably Andrea Chenier), and according to Paul Campion in his fine booklet essay, it “did not appeal to its early audiences,” and later audiences had next to no opportunity to see it at all. One later performance, given “shortly before the Second World War,” might well have been the one to show the work at its best advantage - the cast featured Magda Olivero in the title role with Tito Schipa as her partner.

The Dynamic/Naxos cast, caught at a 2007 staging at the festival Valle D’Italia, pose no threats to the memories of Olivero and Schipa’s careers. Serena Daolio as Marcella must strike us as an unworldly, even timid woman who finds herself passionately and helplessly in love with Giorgio (Danilo Formaggia). Giordano’s compositional style had not progressed much from his more famous work of previous years. Marcella and Giorgio both require ample, rich voices who can pour out their romantic exultations and trauma tirelessly. Without distinctive voices, the effect becomes tiresome, and neither Daolio nor Formaggia have much character to their instruments. She tightens at the top, and he has a darker timbre prone to weak intonation.

Even singers such as Olivero and Schipa probably couldn’t do much to make this opera a success. The story feels both unoriginal and overextended, even at 66 minutes. The first episode takes place in a lively restaurant, rather too schematically designed to have a choral number and some other character interaction before the opera comes down to its essential two-character core. Marcella runs in, scared by some inappropriate behavior (very vague in nature) from a crowd outside. Giorgio comforts her. What she doesn’t know is that Giorgio (in a plot twist too reminiscent of operetta librettos) is a prince in disguise, out to see the world away from the pressures of the court. Giorgio and Marcella fall in love; he idly dreaming that he can escape his responsibilities indefinitely. But he can’t, and Marcella makes a tearful goodbye, realizing she could never be his consort. Improbable and yet uninteresting, this narrative provides very weak support for Giordano’s overheated style, and his melodic invention never catches fire.

Director Alessio Pizzechi tries to bring the piece to life, including having some ladies of doubtful repute traipse in their undergarments through the restaurant. Michele Riccairini’s sets look best in the wooden simplicity of the country home Giorgio and Marcella repair to in the last two episodes. Manlio Benzi conducts the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia, producing a warm, excited sound suitable to the score.

If any fan of Giordano’s must have this piece, the DVD has sound as good as the CD, and at least some modest visual appeal. But Marcella the opera is unlikely to have any happier fate that its title character endures.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):